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Dave Douglas: The Infinite

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Trumpeter Dave Douglas continues to delight and stimulate open-minded listeners while confounding those unwilling to accept the notion that there is no rigid approach to jazz improvisation or composition. Douglas’ latest release should also silence criticism that he’s a lightweight writer and inferior, limited soloist. His playing throughout The Infinite proves consistently inventive, strong and resonant, while several of the disc’s selections feature intriguing arrangements and striking melodies despite their lack of rhythmic vitality or edge.

Douglas has crafted a worthy CD, inspired by Miles Davis, without making things overly reverential or derivative. He also keeps the audience off balance through clever alteration and/or substitution of instrumental and textural colors. At times, he’ll employ a trumpet/bass clarinet frontline with Uri Caine’s electric keyboard progressions darting along underneath and drummer Clarence Penn setting the rhythmic agenda. On other occasions, Chris Potter’s sturdy, darting tenor saxophone gets the spotlight, while Douglas and company react and respond to his statements. While it might be nice for Penn, a skilled percussionist, to have a more upfront role, he still teams effectively with bassist James Genus on all nine cuts.

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